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Standing in Line.

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Standing in line? Lame.

We all despise it to some degree right? How many times have you been excited for your favorite yogurt place restaurant or movie, only to have your excitement instantaneously deflated when you’re ushered with a smile (hopefully, but not always) towards a 30-minute line to wait. We as a society despise waiting so much we invented a way to wait in line in private. They call it Drive-thru!

I have a favorite coffee spot in the city. Actually, I admittedly have a few favorites, but today I was in the area of one near our old office in the East Village. The tender dark aroma of this place has a scent you can catch a half a block away, and thankfully, because of how tiny it is, the line is never too bad. Today as I rounded the corner towards the shop, something else was distinctly in the air. Another smell, not quite as savory, but something edible. It floated amongst the smell of fresh roasted beans, mixed with honeysuckle from the newly blossomed trees that line Avenue A. Being a farm boy and sucker for curious smells, I decided to follow my nose for just a second and investigate this peculiar but pleasant scent. What I found around the corner was not a early afternoon barbeque, or a farmer’s market cookout, it was the Salvation Army food truck and the line was devastating.

Like a slow moving infantry, the homeless lined the edge of Tompkins Square park in the warm sun. Every item they owned; collected trash, bottles and cans, cardboard, blankets and push carts clinked and clanked as the crowd moved in what felt like one slow unified crusade towards the food. Volunteers moved vigorously to serve the plates; a warmth on their faces that I knew only masked the sadness of such a scene. Just north of the line, less than a stone’s throw, the cruel irony of this scene is completed by a glowing, technicolor of a playground for children. Just a mere 30 yards away; laughter and innocence, snacks and handi-wipes.

I sat across the street for a moment, struck by the contrast. I thought to myself: everyone in this line was once like these children. A child full of perpetual hope and promise; with no worry about their next meal, only the next swing set. Now, it does me no good to try and contemplate why such things happen. It is beyond my knowledge, and will probably continue to be. But what I can contemplate is how grateful I can be for still having that hope and promise fill my everyday life. I can be grateful that I needn’t worry about where my next meal is coming from. I can be grateful to be in a position to give and not just receive.

I wrote the donation number down on the side of the truck and made my way back towards the coffee shop. A feeling of gratitude beaming inside of me somehow. As I turned the corner I saw, of course, there was a line. I stepped right in with a smile on my face, thankful simply for the choice to do so.

Stay grateful. Stay thankful. Stay humble.
All my best,

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Jay Kubassek

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  • Jay, you have truly captured the essence of the scene and in a few but incredibly expressive words, forced me to stop and contemplate the irony of the world we live in. Well done my friend, Colin.